Meet the Teacher Night – A Stutterers Nightmare

I took a personality test once that deemed me an extroverted-introvert. However, it didn’t consider a key characteristic of my being – I’m a stutterer. If I had a clear path to speech, I may actually be an extrovert, or an extroverted-extrovert, whatever the hell that is. I imagine any Real Housewife in the Bravo franchise is an extroverted-extrovert aka a narcissist. So I could be that. I could be a narcissist that just never got her chance to shine thanks to her stutter. #SilverLining

But I probably am an extroverted-introvert, meaning I’m not entirely a loner but I definitely prefer to choose my moments of communication. And yes, that is sometimes driven by my speech. So when obligatory interactions like Meet the Teacher night at my son’s new school come along, I immediately start obsessing over the possible interactions I may have to make.

It’s funny, the variety of parents who attend Meet the Teacher night. You have all walks of life, from the family that intends to meet and have a personal conversation with each and every faculty member at the school to… me, someone hiding in the shadows, skirting along the hallway walls until I feel an appropriate amount of time has lapsed so I can quietly duck out a side door.

The beginning of Meet the Teacher night took place in the auditorium, which I love because the chance of round-robin introductions are next to nil. During this portion of the night, we learn about the school’s procedures and policies, and something they call School-Wide Positive Behavior Support, which immediately my mind drifts into how I would say that if I had to repeat it. I mean, it’s a mouthful. So I retitled it the Don’t Be A Jerk Program, a nice little set of words that I think gets the point across just fine.

After the auditorium portion of the night concludes, the parents break apart, making way to their child’s classroom to meet the teacher. This is where the pit in my stomach grows. Not only because of the looming interaction ahead, but along the way the hallways are filled with faculty members like the guidance counselor, gym teacher, music teacher, and more, all waiting to shake your hand, learn who your child is, and make a connection.

I’d sooner walk through the scariest haunted house with zombies popping out of every crevice than have to marble-mouth the name of my son to the gym teacher. With a haunted house, all I have to do is scream, something a stutter gives way to.

Dodging my way through the halls, I arrive at my son’s 1st Grade classroom, make a decent introduction to the teacher, and stake my claim in the tiny child seat intended for my kid. There’s a mom sitting next to me, and she introduces herself as Sarah. And for that moment, the Gods favor me, because all I have to say is: Me too!

For the next 45 minutes, I listen to the teacher talk about her approach to learning. One of the parents has a question that the teacher isn’t sure of, however, I do know the answer. I know the answer because this question came up a couple of weeks ago during the New Student Orientation Day, which again, is a mouthful for me.

And because I sometimes like to help people, I wanted to answer this question for her.

And since I’m a writer, I believe in providing context to things.

Even when it’s unnecessary.

So I raise my hand to chime in to which I explained I learned the answer to her question during ‘New Kid Day’. I’m not even fucking joking. I wish I was. I called New Student Orientation Day – New Kid Day as if that didn’t completely negate any credit I had in answering this woman’s question.

I curse myself, “Never again. Back to the wall, Sarah. Stick with what you know. Stay in your safe zone. People will be fine without your help. You said it yourself, you bet if a survey was done, over 99% of people don’t actually want help. People just want to wallow in their unsureness in life. Who are you to stop them?”

And then a couple of weeks later, the school sends out an opportunity to be a cafeteria volunteer, and I find myself opening up the sign-up sheet and thinking, this seems like minimal communication. And it is. I found that out during Cafeteria Duty Volunteer Orientation or as I like to call it: How To Feed the Kids Day.

Because for me, as an extroverted-introvert stutterer, it’s all about finding communication that works for me.

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